Driving in the snow can be a tricky business, particularly if you have only recently passed your test. We’ve come up with some tips to help you stay safe when it’s snowy outside.
- Prepare your car
The first thing to do is to ensure your car is prepared for poor weather conditions. Make sure your tyres have adequate tread depth for maximum grip and where possible, get a set of winter tyres fitted. These are designed to cope with cold weather and stay flexible in temperatures below 7o, maintaining better grip and reducing stopping distance.
It’s also a good idea to have de-icer to hand, as well as items such as a torch, blanket, phone charger and some snacks just in case you get stranded.
- Getting started
The RAC recommends drivers allow 10 minutes to let the windscreen clear thoroughly before starting out. Ensure that all the windows and mirrors are clear too so that you don’t limit your visibility.
Moving off in second gear rather than first can help to reduce wheel slip and get you going safely. Once moving, accelerate gently keeping the revs low and change into a higher gear sooner rather than later.
- Other cars
Good drivers are aware of what other cars are doing in normal conditions, but this is especially important when you’re driving in the snow. You will need to leave more space between yourself and the car in front that normal (this may be up to 10 times the normal recommended gap) to account for increased stopping distances. Keep your speed down to give you time to stop and to steer.
- Staying on track
Gritted roads will allow your tyres to grip more easily, so staying in the wheeltracks of other vehicles is fairly safe. If the road has not been gritted, however, the snow can become more compressed in the wheeltracks and is more likely to be icy. If you can, drive over fresh snow; if not, be extremely careful.
If you do skid when driving in the snow, your natural reaction may be to steer away from the skid or brake hard, but this can do more harm than good. You should steer into a skid, so if the rear of the car skids to the right, you need to steer to the right. Don’t take your hands off the wheel or brake hard as this is likely to make the situation worse and could cause an accident.